When the managers of the Orchard Hotel first considered phasing out chemical-based cleaning products, the environment was the last thing on their minds. It was late 2001, when many hotels were struggling to survive, and the Orchard was scrambling for ways to cut costs. The director of housekeeping suggested looking at cleaning products—there were alternatives on the market that were less expensive and, incidentally, eco-friendly. “We’d heard this before,” says general manager Stefan Muhle. “But we just didn’t believe these claims.” Economic necessity encouraged a more open mind, and he devised a trial for a line of citrus-based products by Sierra Natural Cleaners. For six weeks, half of the housekeeping staff used the new products, while the other half stuck with traditional chemicals. Then the groups switched products. After three months, there was no doubt: the citrus-based cleaners were not only cheaper; they were just as effective. Workers also reported fewer health problems. “Everyone realized it’s a win-win-win situation,” Muhle says. “There’s no reason not to use these products.” This lesson proved useful a few years later, when the Orchard’s owner decided to build a new, totally green property—the Orchard Garden, California’s first LEED-certified hotel—which adopted the same cleaners. “We were going green without even knowing it,” Muhle says.